In many speeches and interviews leading up to his presidency, then-Senator Barack Obama regularly used the death toll resulting from America’s Middle East engagements as a campaign talking point. Why does that matter? Because the president’s campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt accused Romney of making a “political attack” as America was “confronting the tragic death of one of our diplomatic officers in Libya.”

Consider Obama’s past op-ed for the New York Times:

“I believed it was a grave mistake to allow ourselves to be distracted from the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban by invading a country that posed no imminent threat and had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. Since then, more than 4,000 Americans have died”

Senator Barack Obama

July 14, 2008

And his speech on Iraq in March of 2008 :

Nearly four thousand Americans have given their lives. Thousands more have been wounded.

Candidate Obama even brought the death toll up in the 2008 presidential debates:


Wednesday was a different story, however. The president severely criticized Mitt Romney for attacking the Obama administration’s response to the attacks. The media was right behind, as the New York Times notes:

Pundits called it “craven” and a “Lehman moment,” alluding to Senator John McCain’s fumbled handling of the collapse of Lehman Brothers that helped sink his 2008 campaign.

MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell berated a Romney spokesperson over the politicizing of American deaths, asking bluntly: ”Does it seem to be injecting politics into a national tragedy?”

John Podhoretz hit back, writing in the New York Post:

This was an effort — not entirely conscious — to make it illegitimate for Romney to criticize the president’s foreign policy at a moment when foreign policy has suddenly taken center stage.  But that’s exactly when such a debate should take place — because it’s when the public will actually pay attention.

The point, particularly given the president’s own double standard, is a good one.

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